The swimming pool in the backyard of Louis Minardi’s home may be distinctive to Florida: The custom-built pool is shaped like a six-shooter revolver in a state made famous – sometimes infamous – by guns, gun politics and gun culture.
“Neighbors that have bought houses around here have all come by,” said Minardi, who lives near Tampa. “They’re all, ‘Is this guy a whack job?’”
The story behind the revolver-shaped pool goes back roughly 40 years to an idea proposed by Minardi’s high school friend, Albert Jones III, a contractor who said he was bored building more traditionally shaped pools.
Minardi was reluctant at first, but the idea resonated with him, given his lifelong relationship with guns. Now 67, Minardi said he grew up hunting with friends and remembers receiving his first firearm, a double-barrel shotgun, when he was in middle school but already mindful of gun safety.
“I was the shortest, littlest guy growing up, and bought a damn 12-gauge,” Minardi said.
“The times were different then,” he said. “You’re 12, and your mother drops you off a box of shells and a shotgun. But they trust it. They knew we knew what we were doing.”
Minardi said he opened a gunsmithing business with his brother after attending classes in 1976.
In the 1980s, Minardi and his wife, Raye, decided they wanted a pool. They lived on a lake that contained snakes and alligators, and Raye Minardi would have to watch over their children swimming from the dock with a shotgun, she said.
The family wanted a pool at least 40 feet long to allow for laps. After Louis Minardi contacted Jones, who owned A.H. Jones Pools Inc., the idea was born for the gun pool – all 55 feet of it.
“You’re going to think I’m crazy,” Jones said, according to Louis Minardi. Knowing Minardi’s background as a gunsmith, Jones showed up with plans modeled after a Ruger Blackhawk, a 1950s-era, Western-style revolver characterized by its long barrel and known for its durability and accuracy.
“You swim your lap down the barrel,” Louis Minardi said Jones told him. “It gets deeper on that end. You can flip over from it, and then you can swim back.”
Jones pleaded with him to let him build the gun pool, Louis Minardi said. He said he was tired of building kidney-shaped pools, a staple of Florida’s backyards. Minardi agreed — provided he stayed within his project’s budget.
Jones, who died in 2010, color-coordinated the perimeter pool tiles to accurately reflect the revolver’s brown handle and silver body. He detailed tiles on the bottom of the pool to distinguish the gun’s individual components, like the trigger and ammunition chamber. And he installed a jacuzzi in the hammer.
The pool has been resurfaced over the years, but the shape remains.
Louis Minardi said the pool is popular among family and friends, who have used it to teach their children to swim.
Louis Minardi stopped gunsmithing in the late ’80s, due to increasing insurance rates for gun warranties. He became more involved with the family-owned taxi service and has run that business ever since.
Still, gun education remains important to him. He said he’s taken his children and grandchildren hunting since they were very young. He said he did not allow them to use a gun unless they were closely supervised and had proper training.
Gun education is at the center of Louis Minardi’s views on gun regulation. He said people should be allowed to own guns and carry guns in public. Florida lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would eliminate requirements for concealed carry permits, which currently include mandatory classroom training and proof of proficiency at a gun range. He also said having a gun doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t know how to properly use it.
“If you’re qualified, mentally able to have one and protect yourself, I think you ought to have one if you want one, whether you keep it at home or you carry it with you,” Louis Minardi said. “But it’s like everything. It’s educating. It’s educating the people about the guns, how they work.”
“Nowadays, most people don’t know anything about them,” he said.
Reflecting on his pool, he wasn’t aware that people on social media had noticed the unusual shape on overhead map imagery. And he said in all his years since being a gunsmith with a revolver-shaped pool, he never considered another curious coincidence: His family lives on Gunn Highway.
“I don’t know. I never thought about Gunn Highway,“ Louis Minardi said. “It just happens to be the road we live on.”
This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.